Mayor Quinton Lucas stands with Executive Director Rashida Phillips, who holds Charlie Parker's Grafton saxophone. Photo: EPCOT – Walt Disney World
Kansas City, get ready to experience Disney magic! In December 2021 The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure is coming to The Changing Gallery of the American Jazz Museum, right in time for the holiday season. The family-friendly traveling exhibit combines Pixar’s Soul with the journey of jazz across the United States, with the New Orleans Jazz Museum and National Jazz Museum in Harlem also included on its exhibit tour.
Dr. Dina Bennett is the American Jazz Museum’s Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs. As the lead coordinator to the Disney team, she’s ensured the Kansas City jazz story is properly honored.
“There is documentation of jazz drummer Samuel ‘Baby’ Lovett playing with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. There’s a way we can tie in the local scene with the national heavy hitters, and I am most excited for people to see the regional and global reach of jazz. We can see how it’s transformed through different influences, through different cities, which all have different characteristics that create different sounds.”
Registrar Morgan Smith considers this exhibit as the perfect opportunity to showcase artifacts in the museum’s collection that most of the public doesn’t get to see.
“Our objects will heavily speak to Kansas City jazz that may not be listed in history. There are famous figures listed in the main panels, like Los Angeles talking about modern day jazz with Jon Batiste and Lady Gaga influences from the genre. But we’ll get to showcase Count Basie and Mary Lou Williams, as well as Bettye Miller and Milt Abel, a prominent jazz couple in Kansas City’s jazz history.”
Collections Associate Katharine Molnar also sees the benefit of aligning with Disney. Not just to be family-friendly, but also the continued growth of the museum’s progress.
“I look forward to the visitors seeing this relationship with Disney. This isn’t just the American Jazz Museum keeping jazz alive: It’s a huge institution wanting to do the same thing, who sees jazz as a spiderweb influencing all kinds of music.”
Carmen Smith, Senior Vice President, Creative Development - Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies for Walt Disney Imagineering, echoes Molnar’s words.
“We’re thrilled to bring elements of EPCOT’s The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure exhibit to the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. Jazz music is a genre that brings us together, and our hope is to demonstrate how this collaborative artform inspired a generation of creators in the museum’s own backyard. This exhibit is a tribute to their artistry and a testament to the magic of the human potential!”
Bringing this exhibit to the American Jazz Museum has taken a full migration. In February 2021, Mayor Quinton Lucas and a team from the museum hand-delivered Charlie Parker’s Grafton saxophone to EPCOT in Florida, where The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure first began. The artifact came home for Charlie Parker’s 101st birthday celebration in August.
We look forward to welcoming visitors and families to experience the magic this holiday season.